Like any '90s kid, when I think Disney, I think death and depression. I mean, duh, guys, aside from Disney movies hiding a lot of dirty jokes within them, the films are also a veritable cinematic factory of dead parents. And, in light of recent Disney-inspired bleakness seen in Banksy's new project Dismaland, I've gotten really reflective about the dark side of Disney. That is, I got to thinking... which Disney movie death really hit me the hardest?
Now, if you can believe it, I compiled a short list of Disney deaths. It only includes a quick 21 characters, no big deal. Generally speaking, nobody is safe in a Disney movie, but the best way to avoid the Grim Reaper is to never become someone's parent. Or, like, don't become evil. Of course, when it comes to evil Disney fiends (or at least most evil Disney fiends), we tend to feel almost triumphant about their violent and horrifying death. But you show a deer getting shot? All of a sudden the floodgates are open.
So, in honor of all the pain and sadness Disney routinely brings us, here's a quasi-definitive ranking of 21 significant Disney movie deaths. Brace yourself, and keep your box of tissues at the ready.
19. Gaston From Beauty And The Beast
Some people will disagree with me, because he has one of the top five songs in Disney history. Fair. But he also tried to restrict Belle's freedom, and attack her beastly boyfriend because he was, well, a beast, so I didn't shed many tears when he died.
18. Claude Frollo From The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
Basically a first class hypocrite and all around terrible human being. I'm not saying he deserves the hellfire he gets but... no, that's what I'm saying. It was ironic justice, you know?
17. Scar From The Lion King
Scar's a potent villain for, you know, a lion. The fratricide and several year reign of terror might take some of the sting off his death even for his fans, though.
16. The Evil Queen From Snow White
Respect for the OG Disney movie death.
15. Ursula From The Little Mermaid
Ursula has a certain element of camp that I do sincerely appreciate. Still, she is one terrible woman, and she deserves to go down... under the sea.
14. Mother Gothel From Tangled
While I consciously recognize Mother Gothel sucks and stuff, I get no satisfaction, no real feeling when she dies. By 2010, it was like, you see one Disney villain fall to their death, you've seen them all.
13. Clayton From Tarzan
Clayton's role is somewhat muddled in my head along with that one Phil Collins' song. I do, however, remember how crazy his death was. While he's a terrible, terrible person, seeing someone get hung by a vine is definitely traumatic enough to at least invoke shock.
12. Maleficent From Sleeping Beauty
See, this is a matter of conflict for me, because I thoroughly enjoy Maleficent, especially in light of recent live-action revivals. So, while I can acknowledge that her death is as warranted as any of the previously listed, I still have a pang of feels because she's my girl.
11. Cinderella's Dad From Cinderella
See, now we're delving into the death of the good guys, and that includes Cinderella's Dad... named Cinderella's Dad. While his briefly mentioned death is kind of sad, it's really hard to get emotionally attached to someone who doesn't have a name, you know?
10. James From The Princess And The Frog
Tiana's dad likewise has a quick exit, but the significant difference is that we actually see the bond between them and the foundation he laid for her dreams. Since his death is more implied, it doesn't have a strong sting, but the backstory at least gives it more depth.
9. Kocoum From Pochantas
This happened. From a historical perspective it makes me feel weird, and the actual necklace-breaking death is pretty dramatic.
8. Megara From Hercules
OK, she gets brought back to life, so that alone makes this death bearable. But seeing her get crushed by a pillar, that's a lot to swallow, even if you know Herc will save the day.
7. Tarzan's Parents From Tarzan
Nameless, but there's a whole emotional story that begins with shipwreck and ends with a leopard. So, you know, that's a heavy way to start the film.
6. Quasimodo's Mother From The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
I know I said lack-of-name makes it hard to empathize, but we see this woman break her neck, you guys. That's still haunting me.
5. The King And Queen of Arendelle From Frozen
If you don't consider the Tarzan theory as canon, then Elsa and Anna's parents death is a lot to stomach. Really, it's the tossing ship, mourning procedures, and deteriorated relationship of the sisters that sets me off.
4. Coral From Finding Nemo
Oof. Coral's death is a classic Pixar heartbreaker, but nothing makes me bawl more than how Marlin embraces and titles the nascent Nemo in honor of his wife. You're a clownfish! You're supposed to be funny!
3. Bambi's Mom From Bambi
Still regarded by many as Baby's First Trauma. As someone who, up until recently, has lived surrounded by deer, I can easily say that I would not be able to watch this scene without losing it.
2. Mufasa From The Lion King
I got depressed looking at this gif, that's how real Mufasa's death is to me... and really any millennial. Simba's loss is all of our losses. But there is still one death that takes the cake.
1. Ellie From Up
There are deaths that make you cry, and then there are deaths that make you feel like you'll never be OK again. Even after knowing her for ten minutes, Ellie's death is something that none of us that none of us will ever recover from... unless we start blowing up balloons to make the sadness soar away.
Reflecting on all of these tragic deaths, whether of the villains or of the good guys, is enough to make me reach for a box of Kleenex again, I have to say. Even in the world of Disney movies, no one is safe.
Images: Disney (4); Giphy (16)